Antithesis Incarnate: Christopher Hitchens, a Retrospective Glance
As a “public intellectual,” Christopher Hitchens’ eminently readable writings helped look at people and events from a different perspective—mostly, it must be said, one based on reality rather than received “wisdom” and prejudice. While Orwell sought to write a prose that was like a pane of glass and gave his famous list of do’s and don’ts, Hitchens played with words and often broke many of his mentor’s rules. The uncharitable might conclude that he was often trying to draw attention to the writer rather than the message, and they would often be right. While Orwell tends to state his theses magisterially, if occasionally cantankerously, Hitchens’ preferred style is the polemic. He functioned best when he was arguing with an opponent, to the extent that by the time of the Iraq war he made his own windmill to tilt at—a collective stereotype left that did not actually exist.